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8x8 CCaaS: Now a Stand-alone Service
Today at the annual Contact Center Week conference in Las Vegas, 8x8 announced that it is launching 8x8 Contact Center. But 8x8 has been offering a cloud-based contact center service for 12 years, so, you might be wondering, why the need for an announcement now?
The change 8x8 is highlighting with this news is a strategic one, similar to the move Mitel made last summer (see my No Jitter post, “Mitel Recalibrates Contact Center Strategy”). 8x8 will no longer address the contact center market merely as a possible add-on to a UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) deal.
8x8 has been a UCaaS vendor since 2002. It began offering contact center as a service (CCaaS) through an OEM deal with Contactual in 2007. With the continued success of that relationship, and the increase in the proportion of customers looking for both UCaaS and CCaaS, 8x8 purchased Contactual in 2011. Two more contact center acquisitions – of Quality Software Corp. and DXI -- followed in 2015.
8x8’s contact center success didn’t go unnoticed. In each of the four Magic Quadrant for CCaaS reports Gartner has published, it has included 8x8 as a “Challenger,” with an improving position in that quadrant each year. A higher position on the “completeness of vision” axis would move 8x8 into the rarified “Leaders” quadrant, for the past four years populated only by Five9, Genesys, and inContact.
8x8 has been building toward this decision, having hired a team of experienced CCaaS salespeople who this year have led the company in successfully taking on projects in which it only replaced the contact center software -- i.e., the customers had no corresponding UCaaS migration. Additionally, in May the company brought on two key contact center marketing executives: Janice Rapp, as vice president of product marketing, CCaaS; and Patrick Russell, director, product marketing, CCaaS. With the marketing and sales pieces in place, today’s announcement signals that 8x8 is ready to make public its strategic decision to address the stand-alone CCaaS market.
In addition to announcing CCaaS as a stand-alone service, 8x8 has introduced several new solution capabilities. One of these is Customer Journey Analytics, an 8x8-developed feature that offers insight into every customer touchpoint, shown in the graphic below.
During a telephone briefing, Russell said Customer Journey Analytics provides a “very clean UI to understand every point within an interaction with a customer. How long were they in queue? What did they experience within the IVR?” As shown at the bottom of the graphic, a contact center manager could use the capability to view parts of a customer conversation with the goal of understanding whether an agent greeted the customer with the company name or closed the call with a thank you.
Another new feature, 8x8 Expert Finder, highlights the advantage of contact center agents having access to business employees. Expert Finder combines the value of 8x8 Team Messaging and AI to search and rank established message rooms based on past chats and expert interactions. Tac Berry, 8x8’s senior product marketing manager for contact center, explained on the briefing call that Expert Finder is an enhancement to an earlier capability, Expert Connect. “With Expert Connect, we required the agent to find the expert and try to connect to them. We've added intelligence so that agents can just put in the request and the system helps them find the expert, so they don't have to search themselves. The system helps search for them.”
Expert Finder works across messaging platforms, both inside and outside the organization, providing interoperability to more than 24 third-party messaging platforms (e.g., Slack, Cisco Webex Teams, Google Hangouts, etc). This enables employees to access the collective wisdom of the extended organization.
Note that Expert Finder works in conjunction with an 8x8 UCaaS license and so wouldn’t be available to customers that choose 8x8 Contact Center but remain on non-8x8 UC systems. So, while 8x8 sees the CCaaS market as a valuable one to attack on a stand-alone basis, the company still believes it can deliver additional value to customers that choose it for both UCaaS and CCaaS.